Ask Alex: Steelers’ Mailbag

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Hey everyone, good to be back with you. As always, answering your Steelers’ questions for roughly the next hour.

Vine is dead, people. Pour one out (in no more than six seconds).

To your questions!

Mc_Muffin: Do you think Keith Buttler will be defensive coordinator next season?

Alex: As of right now, yes. But I don’t think about those things until the season is over. We still are just halfway through this thing.

But some dominoes could fall. Usually starts small with the Steelers. Could Porter go? I can see it. Could Lake? Yeah, that might happen. Not saying I agree/support it, just that it’s plausible.

falconsaftey43: 1: Is it really 1 really good edge rusher away from a top 10 D?
2: If not, who on this D shouldn’t be starting on a top 10 quality D?
3: If the D does have a decent amount of talent, what’s the scheme issues holding back this team?


1. No. That would be a huge help but I don’t think the leap would be that great. Not that I’d turn one down.

2. Relative to the rest of the league or to the current depth chart? The depth chart is about where it should/can be, though as I argued this morning, Justin Gilbert could be argued to usurp Artie Burns.

Relative to the league, none of the OLBs are going to have much of a role on a competitive team. Davis wouldn’t have seen the role he had early and Burns definitely wouldn’t be now.

3. It’s always both. There’s scheme problems, there’s talent problems. The lack of a presence at OLB is where it starts for me. That falls on Tomlin, Colbert. Poor construction of their most important group.

Listened to the podcast yesterday and I disagree with the idea it’s a “vanilla” defense. It isn’t blitz-happy but that doesn’t mean it’s vanilla. Butler is doing a lot. The success, unfortunately, hasn’t been there.

And yes, as I’ve said for quite some time, need to get back to blitzing five.

Wes Lee: How long do you think it will take until we make Mettenberger the #2 QB?

Alex: I know you’d love to see it Wes, but don’t hold your breath. Don’t think it ever happens. This year or beyond.

The Tony: If any Steeler would be traded, who is most likely to go

Alex: Markus Wheaton. Really the only name you could argue. But I very much doubt it happens.

If it does, look for Philly. They want a WR with speed and obviously, the team has done dealings with the front office recently.

RickM: Can you give your best explanation as to why the team suddenly fell apart against the run with Heyward out. One starter lost shouldn’t create that much of a problem, should it? Thoughts?

Alex: In theory, no, it shouldn’t. But there is certainly is an impact, as I know you understand.

For starters, offenses weren’t being made one-dimensional the last two weeks. Washington fell behind. Kansas City fell behind. The Jets fell behind. Bengals played catch-up all day. So the run game looked better because they weren’t getting run on.

Miami gets a lead. Ditto New England. They’re controlling things now. That’s a better representation of where your defense is at. When you’re at a disadvantage or pretty even. Not when you’re holding a two-score lead. Those teams controlled the tempo and/or clock.

Beyond that, I’ve written a lot about the big runs being turned on Pittsburgh. Issues all over the place. Guys needing to win the point of attack, get off blocks, but the secondary woes is really creating them. Gay and those in the past, B-Mac, Ike, Deshea, could all stick their face in the fan. Eight yard runs wouldn’t go farther than that. Now, they’re going for 20-25 and inflating the numbers.

SkoolHouseRoxx: What up, Alex! If you were pressed to make a trade for either Alshon Jeffrey or Joe Thomas which would you choose and why?

Alex: Hey man! Gimmie Thomas. I know I’m getting a stud. Jeffrey has been kinda rough this year, even when Brian Hoyer (a competent QB! what a find, Chicago) was in there.

Villanueva goes to swing tackle and you have some incredible OL depth for the next few years. I’d be happy. And only for a 2nd rounder? Not too shabby.

Steelers12: i was wondering your opinion on [Tomlin] and do you think he could be fired if Steelers miss playoffs or have a 1st round exit

Alex: No I don’t see it and I’m pretty confident in that. Any changes start small. Positional coaches, maybe a coordinator, roster upheavel. Not with the head coach. Not in Pittsburgh. Not now.

Unless Tomlin has lost the locker room (that’s his calling card), he gets extra slack. Tomlin is safe.

Geoff Cordner: Fill in the blank – if the steelers want to win another super bowl they must do (…) better

Alex: They must pressure the quarterback better. Pretty obvious but when you have eight sacks and are on pace for the fewest ever, you don’t have to search high and low for improvement.

Pressuring the quarterback probably means the run defense is better, you’re getting more 3rd and longs, and as a byproduct, more turnovers. Real old-school LeBeau principles. He’s the Steelers’ Reagan. Trickle down defense…something like that (I’m not politically savvy).

James Cowan: I think the biggest problem with the defence is we’re playing a 4-3 with base 3-4 players, do you agree?

Alex: Not so much and I don’t really think about 3-4 vs 4-3 or whatever. I just look at individual problems and the scheme they’re running and the issues it’s having.

Really, it’s just a fancy way of saying, “the pass rushers aren’t good enough.” Which we all know. I don’t dive into the fodder of switching to a 4-3. I’ll leave that for boredom, news-starved summer thinkpieces on other websites.

Da Bus Driver: Long term at this moment, based on what we’ve seen, more excited about Sean Davis or Artie Burns?

Alex: Since neither have been spectacular in their short NFL career, I’m sticking with how I felt after the draft. So give me Davis. He was one of my favorite picks of the class.

That’s all for this week. Be sure to join me for my live stream tomorrow at 3 to watch a little film and talk more Steelers. Look for the link here.

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